She Reveals Herself to No One but Her Lover

by tillerofthesoil

ritual4b“A bride who lives in the house of her father. So long as her eyes are beautiful her body needs no examination” (BT Ta’anit 24a).

She says: We are a bride adorned and crowned, and all the mitsvot are included within [us]. She is Treasury of the Torah and the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, as is written, ‘Torah did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4). Do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), a heritage, but rather מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed‘ (BT Berakhot 57a; Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. M Avot 2:17; Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2]. How is this so? When the people of Israel study Torah for her own sake, then she is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then she is the heritage of Israel. How is this so? When Israel engages in Torah for Her own sake, then She is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then She is the heritage of Israel” (Bahir §196).

“Who is a beautiful maiden without eyes, her body concealed and revealed, she emerges in the morning and is concealed by day, adorning herself with adornments which are not?… Torah [who] emerges from her sheath, is seen for a moment, then quickly hides away—certainly so, but when she reveals herself from her sheath and quickly hides, she does so only for those who know her and recognize her. This may be compared to a beloved, beautiful in form and appearance, concealed secretly in her palace. She has a single lover unknown to anyone—except to her, concealedly. Out of the love that he feels for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly, lifting his eyes to every side. Knowing that her lover hovers about her gate constantly, what does she do? She opens a little window in her hidden palace, revealing her face to her lover, then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself. No one near him sees or reflects, only the lover, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flow out to her. He knows that out of love for him she revealed herself for that one moment to awaken love in him. So it is with a word of Torah: she reveals herself to no one but her lover” (Zohar 2:94b–95a, 99a, cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b; Rabbi Moshe de Léon, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113).

“He ‘converses’ with me neither at the beginning nor at the end of the night, but at midnight; and when he ‘converses,’ he uncovers a hand breadth and covers a hand breadth, and is as though he were compelled by a שֵׁד (shed), demon [alt., שָׁד (shad), breast]” (BT Nedarim 20b).

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